Hey, Spike! highlights competitors in Summit Seniors 50-plus Winter Games | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! highlights competitors in Summit Seniors 50-plus Winter Games

At 51 years old, Asa Armstrong, of Breckenridge, is a new-comer to this year's Summit Seniors 50-plus Winter Games.
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In the Summit Seniors 50-plus Winter Games, a 51-year-old is a new kid on the block.

Let’s have a round of applause for Asa Armstrong of Breckenridge, who is making her second appearance in the 37th annual Games, which start Sunday and run through Tuesday on the Frisco Peninsula and at Keystone Resort.

The native of Follinge, Sweden, is not new to Nordic athletic competition. Asa was recruited from her Scandinavian homeland by the University of Wyoming in Laramie to represent the school in classic and skate XC skiing.

In the local games, she’ll also be competing in the biathlon, a two-discipline event that goes like this: Ski fast, stop and shoot, and do it again and again.

The biathlon is the same competitive contest that now-gone Summit pioneer Howard Giberson won many times, even into his 80s.

Asa will be in her element, a familiar scene that started in Lill-Lilla Föllinge Loppet at age 2.

At 15 she was accepted to Solleftea Ski Academy, where she trained with members of the Swedish National Team and competed in several Swedish Championships.

Up in Wyoming, Asa and her teammates competed in four consecutive NCAA Championships.

Inspired by her parents, Gullan and Lars, who are in their 80s, and ski almost every day in Sweden, Asa decided to register for the Senior Winter Games for the first time last winter when she turned 50.

Asa’s efforts in last winter’s Games resulted in four gold medals.

“While I love both classic skiing and skate skiing, my favorite competition in the Senior Winter Games is the biathlon competition,” says Asa. “Skiing is not only exercise, it’s how I de-stress and connect with nature and find my balance.”

On a scale of one to 10, Asa says her conditioning level today is a five, adding “ugh,” to that.

A few years ago, Asa skied the 51k event in the famous Birkebeiner in Wisconsin. Today, she fits her training around a workload as marketing and development director at the Keystone Science School.

Residents of Breckenridge for 26 years, the Armstrong family is one of talented skiers — alpine and XC. Asa and husband, Olin, moved here from Seattle, another Scandinavian stronghold.

Olin is from Seattle and competed and coached alpine skiing for the University of Wyoming ski team.

Today, Olin is an alpine ski coach for Team Breckenridge Ski Club and owns Armstrong Concrete.

Their offspring are daughter Heidi, 25, a 2010 Summit High graduate, who is going to school at Montana State University in Billings. She coaches the Red Lodge alpine team on weekends.

Son Max is 23 and attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, and he is an avid alpine skier as well. He graduated from SHS in 2012.

In addition to competing, Asa assisted ski instructor Steph Race with a Nordic training clinic last Sunday at the Frisco Nordic Center.

Senior Center volunteer committee chair for Nordic events and master of ceremonies extraordinaire, Bryan Hartwig, was also there to lend a helping hand.

Jim Galanes, the new Frisco Nordic Center manager, organized the Nordic training clinic. As a former Nordic combined and XC skier, Jim competed at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, the ’80 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, and at the ’84 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.

He finished 14th in the 30k event at the ’82 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo. His best World Cup finish was fifth in a 15k in the Soviet Union in 1984.

Now, don’t let the talent levels of Asa and Jim scare you away. The games also feature “fun” events like obstacle course, snowball throw contests, — no fights, kids — snowshoe races, hockey goal shooting, ice skating races, and singles and doubles ice dance skating.

The local games help fund senior services.

“Between entry fees and the auction, we traditionally net about $10,000 that all goes back into the community for senior services,” says Sandy Bainbridge, president of the Summit County Seniors and publicity chair for the local games. “We, of course, hope to beat that number this year.”

The games start Sunday night at the Summit County Community and Senior Center at an opening dinner combined with a silent auction. The skating and alpine events are Monday and the Nordic events Tuesday.

For more info, go to co.summit.co.us/1057/50-Winter-Games .

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com

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